tv [untitled] September 22, 2010 7:30pm-8:00pm PST
we are supportive of their efforts to seek a variance to allow the lot to be split. we were made aware that the variance permit required for the lot split was previously denied. that came as a surprise to us. from our perspective, and we literally have a direct line of sight to the front of the 1120 19th street house. a lot split has no impact on us nor the surrounding neighborhood. the two homes are already physically separated by an existing fence. it is our understanding that the manabats have also agreed to never increase the envelope of the building. given that restriction, respect we fail to understand how a lot split would negatively impact or possess any detriment to the neighborhood. it seems more likely that not granting the lot split could have a potential negative impact on the neighborhood.
>> thank you very much. next speaker, please. >> good evening. my name is marie cross. my husband and i have been residents on the hill for nearly 20 years and live at 210618th street. we support the manabat's effort to subdivide their block. we were part of one that were approved at 701 vermont and 594 vermont. in the case of 701 vermont, a cause ruled by mr. badner, the similarities between the lot split are hard to ignore. in 701 vermont the lot contains an apartment building faces vermont street and a single family house facing 19th street. this is a very similar situation to the manabats and hughes. in their case, there are two single family homes facing different streets. in the findings of mr. badner,
he stated that granting this variance for 701 vermont is the best and most feasible manner that the owners can deal with the two buildings separately. they are simply seeking an option that will allow them to refinance and make timely improvements to their house. a lot split would allow both parties to be able to deal with their buildings separately. in addition, with 701 vermont, mr. badner ruled that the proposal does not include any construction. the physical condition of the property would not change. in the case of the manabat he is, they are not proposing any new construction. they are willing to restrict the envelope of their building. the variance requested at 701 vermont was granted with the following stipulations. one, an increase in the number of dwelling units shall not be permitted, and two, no vertical or horizontal expansion on either building shall be allowed unless authorized by the zoning administrator.
given this information it is difficult to understand why the manabat's previous variance request was denied. >> thank you very much. next speaker, please. >> hi name is tony kim, and i live on 208 vermont speed. i have been a resident for eight years. i wanted to correct one statement i heard earlier today that the hughes do not reside at their residence. they in fact do. i have been to their house, so i can confirm that they live there. i also wanted to point out that i've reviewed a lot of the letters of opposition, and there is a statistic that gets brought up around only three lots within a quarter mile radius having less than 1,000 square feet. i just don't see how that is relevant to the situation here. as you guys are aware, there
are five primary criteria for the variance. in the review i also noted that the 690 arkansas, 701 vermont and 594 vermont streets were also granted variances. i fully support the variance in discussion here. if the planning commission or the zoning administrator has other survey information that is available for those other properties with respect to the quarter mile radius, i would like to request that information at this time. and if there is no rational badse -- basis for not granting the variance, i request that the regulations be consistent for all of the residents. thank you.
>> thank you. next speaker, please. >> hi. i am alison hughes. i live in the 300 block of mississippi. i don't really want to talk about how hard it is to find parking on street cleaning days or the contentions of the current owners. my concern is the division of this lot will allow at some future point in time the development of this smaller house. we already have a fairly maxed-out lot. if that second building were to be expanded, i think it would be ridiculously huge. i would hate to see that happen. i have heard they are willing to limit the number of units. i haven't heard any guarantee they would limit the size of the smaller building. that is my primary concern. thank you. >> thank you. i have one speaker card left for a flesha feng.
does anyone else care to speak? any other public comment? seeing none, we'll move into rebuttal. mr. sanchez? >> thank you. scott sanchez, planning department. we can certainly appreciate the appellant's concerns and issues regarding financing. however, that is not a suitable criteria for justifying granting them a variance. additionally, this hardship is self imposed given the 1975 decision to allow construction at the front of the property. additionally, had the timing of this worked differently, had there been a stwigstrire to the 2007-2008 fourth floor
addition, based on the plans, i believe that the rear upper part of the fourth floor would have required a variance. it was in a buildable area at the time it was proposed. but given the current lot, it would have otherwise required a variance. the appellant essentially argues that every lot split should be approved. i don't see where the end of the logic is. essentially anything that comes before the zoning administrator should be approved for the division of a lot. the other examples are incomparable to the subject location. they have different issues and facts. we find in this case the 25 by 100 foot lot, the buildings that were built pursuant to the variance in 1975, i believe those warrant denial of the
variance. the neighbors ralph raised issue of the -- have raced issue with the quarter mile radius. we believe that is a suitable metric to determine what the lot size is in the area. it may be imperfect, but it helps in making a decision. in regard to the rear building, yes, they would be dwranted a bit more buildable area because their front set-back would then be on 19th street, and they could potentially add a floor that may even fit within the buildable area. but the clause in there in the variance letter that the administrator can review it doesn't mean there would need to be a variance for it. it may be such a small floor because of the front set-back requirement because it has a height limit there of 40 feet,
and you would have a rear yard requirement. it may be that the proposed additional floor would be so small it wouldn't be feasible without a variance. that may be the case, but there would be some additional buildable area that would be granted to that property. i respectfully request you uphold the denial of the variance. thank you. >> mr. sanchez, i must have misunderstood you the first time you were here. i had asked you if any additional benefits would accrue to the manabats and hughes were the split to be allowed, and you led me to understand there wouldn't be, and unless you heard you wrong just now, you are suggesting if the split were to go through, they were -- they would be granted an additional floor? >> yes. it may be such a small amount of space that it would be
feasible after the variance. this is something i noticed after one of the last speakers mentioned concerns for spanks of that rear building. yes, there would be the potential for some minor envelope they would have that would be code demrinet. >> if that were the only hang-up, and i know you are not suggesting that it is, we could place an n.s.r. on the property and not allowed any future expansion. >> i think this board has broad powers and could make that as a condition of approval. >> thank you. >> along the same lines, the manifest building is actually totally nonforming at this point, isn't it? >> yes, because it is completely in the required year yard. rear yard. >> if the lot split occurred, then the front damage of that
building would be off of 19th, and the required rear yard would be behind that, wouldn't it? >> i wouldn't it -- believe it wouldn't -- they don't satisfy a rear yard requirement. >> i understand. i am saying if that was a lot, then the calculation of the rear yard would occur from 19th street? >> that is correct. >> thank you. >> first of all, just to make it clear, because michelle hughes is very upset. he he she stood in front of the planning commission pregnant with twins. she broke down crying because people accused her then of not wanting to live in the place she was already living in. that is why she added a floor. it was to add bedrooms for the
twins. so this idea that they were developers and greedy, i don't get it. i've done variances for 25 years, and many of you have seen and read them for years. you probably know that one of the key questions is are there substantial property rights that are being sought here that have been given in cases in this neighborhood, that is the key question, and the answer is yes, provided by mr. badner. two below 1,000 and one at 1,081. the conditions that we have offered about vertical expansions triggers variances even if they don't anyway, no horizontal, if you want after i speak, i can talk about how
that can be enforceable. that takes into account a lot of the concerns. the condo law requires if they are going to do the automatic con do conversion, the manabats would have to kick out the tenants they have now, and they don't intend to. otherwise they have to get lottery tickets and have to wait the statistically 2-10 years. the statements by mr. sanchez that this is a self-createed hardship. the building went up that the hughes are in, in 1975. the hughes did not even reach high school in 1975. there is no self-imposed hardship here. their adding a floor in no way affected this lot split approved or denied. i've never seen in the last five years when the city has been enforcing its policy, i've
never seen a variance denied because of a parking reason. the parking is not there now for the manabats. they couldn't be. they would have to raze and destroy an historic building. they are -- it is only 1100 to 1150 square feet. maybe it could have another 100 or 200 even though variances may not be required in the future for them. i don't understand the talk about monster homes and worries from the neighbors. thank you very much. >> commissioners. the matter is submitted. >> i will go first, i guess.
i guess the first thing i want to talk about is an irony operating here. i am wondering what i am missing. it is the same thing i felt when i read the papers. if they were to go through the con do conversion process, i don't know how in any way this would be -- that the ultimate result would be any different than the split. it is not going to look different. whatever they would be allowed to do would be the same were they to be granted the variances that would allow them to split. that confuses me as to what the opposition was. i think someone got up and spoke about the fact that there are people in the neighborhood who are unhappy about the building on the corner. that would explain the neighbors, but i am not totally clear on what i would consider to be an overly strict
interpretation of the rules. the variances are legitimate that are requested that they be denied with the exception of the parking. it used to strike me that on the same evening a lot of times, people would come here, and they would have one case where the issue had to do with someone wanting to create more parking for whatever reason. the planning department would be against it. somebody else would be here that same evening who weren't being allowed to do something because they wouldn't have the parking, and we wouldn't hear about transit first. it would seem like these two things should be in conflict with one another but they weren't because the code is in conflict with itself. were this split to be allowed, nothing changes having to do
with the parringing. there is no parking now. there would be no parking were the split to be allowed. that wouldn't change. nothing actually changes. the appearance of the house won't change. nothing will change. the fence will still be there. what will change, perhaps, is given the economic times that we are in right now and the low interest rates, it is a very favorable time for someone to go out and get a loan and try to pull some equity out of a house and improve it. it does occur to me -- i think i heard some figure of about $20,000 spent so far. that would have gone a long way on a 1,000 square foot-plus building to have done some renovating. as far as i can tell, they are not trying to gain the system. perhaps they would be in a more favorable position to expand this particular property were the split to go through, but that is not guaranteed. it is not like this happens and
therefore the other is bound to happen. one of the speakers said something to the effect that if that is not the house these couples wanted, why did they buy? >> i have two children. i worry deeply about their ability to live in san francisco. my son and his wife make a very good living here, but it is very expensive to live here. for someone to get a t.i.c., you are going to criticize for something like that? i don't think that is reasonable. i guess i'm wondering if this really has to do with what went on the corner as far as the neighbors -- again to repeat myself. as far as the department, i think the attorney for the appellants did a very good job, and i agree with mr. sanchez
that you can't compare variances. they are different sets of circumstances. as he stated, it is not presidential. the argument that would be used for why something would be a hardship is similar. the hardship here is economic realities, and there is an article in our papers having to do with the "wall street journal" article that addresses the fact that with the quig haitian on a small property, it is not as clean and easy to get fbsing. and were you to get financing, i can guarantee you that you would not get the same rate they would get were you to have the split. to conclude, if someone drove by there every day for the last five years, and tomorrow this split were to happy, for the next five years, they would
never know it. it is going to look exactly the same, and it is going to be exactly the same. the one little worry here having to do with expansion can be satisfied. even though the manabats might not want that, maybe affecting the value of the property, we can place an n.s.r. on that and say you don't get to expand. sorry. i look forward to other comments. >> you are supporting overturning? >> absolutely. i thought that was clear. >> just asking. >> thank you. i'm sorry. >> well, i can jump in, i guess. i do take a different view. one of the speakers said something about there being no
rational basis for the decision . we up here know that our review is no error or abuse of discretion. it is somewhat rare to see all five findings requirement not met on all five of them. i think notwithstanding the comments we have heard so far, we are hard pressed to show the abuse of discretion. we have no rear yard, no parking, the hardship imposed because of this 1975 building having had a variance in order to be built. the owners of the property have already maximized the development, and that is what they did then, and then added to that a couple of years ago in 2007-2008.
we heard that was completed a little over a year ago, also from planning that the upper area of that addition might not have been allowed if the lot had been subdivided before. i was persuaded by mr. sanchez's distinguishes of the other variances in the pact. the addition is already 40 feet high. of the two parking places, one was meant to be for the house in the rear, and the concern that there could be additional buildable area to the smaller house in the back are all important considerations. this idea that con do conversion could be circumvented by doing the lot split, i find that very troubling. i think the rules we have in place for con do conversion are there for a reason.
we heard various people complaining about how many hoops it takes to do that with a two-unit property. those hoops are there for a reason as well. i would hate to see us use this lot split to circumvent those rules. the notion that $20,000 has been spent so far on this lot split, we heard from the tenant that the things that needed to be repaired were siding, roof repair and landscaping. commissioner garcia said $20,000 would go a lock way towards making those repairs. we hear sometimes about the foundation or the building is sliding down the hill. that made me think about that money may be better spent on
the repairs. so i would actually support -- not support overturning. >> i will go next. i appreciate the vice president's comments. i'm more in the camp of commissioner garcia. actually reading the variance finding by mr. badner, it was unique that he did not find any of the findings to be met, and it almost came across as one who was protesting too much and very strained. i think there was some overwhelming evidence particularly in finding 453 and other situations. i don't think rarely i have ever said abuse of discretion, but this was a very strained
decision. moreover, common sense here, the out ward appearances, the way the neighbors view these two properties. in every form they have been two different properties, and it really is creating injury and harm to the family. i would be inclined to agree to an n.s.r. or something similar to assure the neighbors that there wouldn't be substantial development of this property following a reversal of the variance. >> my inclingation is to uphold the v.a.'s finding on the variance. five out of five is hard to knock down. i think that -- and for many of the reasons that vice president goh articulated, i feel the
same way. the concerns of the family about financing and all that, that is part of the risk you take when you enter into a t.i.c. as someone who looked into housing and purchasing homes in san francisco, that is part of the risk. the timing isn't great right now. that doesn't mean you can't have alternatives. that is where i am thinking right now. >> i guess the starting point for me really is -- and also having been involved with various cases for 30 years, at least the ones that i've seen, most of them involved something that was not so different as
this particular case is with regular planning tenants' of the code. we have seen where a lot that was 42 feet wound up splitting into two 21-foot lots. therefore, allowing additional housing in san francisco overwñ >> in particular, the problems that this board is seeing, where such a substandard size is being created, not necessarily that it can't be addressed, the potential for problems is too great. if i went to the more technical